Answer to: How Do I Start My Own Film Distribution Company?

Thanks for sending in your questions.. I will cover all of them, this questions was asked by Samuel Charcon:

QUESTION :

Hello Jon, How do I start my own film distribution company?

Thanks,
Samuel Charcon

ANSWER :

I think that question is two fold. Part 1 is assuming you know how to start a business and and get relevant funding. You can find out how to start a small business online at http://www.sba.gov

The second part is market research. I strongly recommend you study a film investment memorandum. It will cover all aspects of what the distribution company does and wants from you. You can think of your self as the boss of this company and turn the facts around pretending. I will cover the basic aspects of a film distribution memorandum and please have a look around my blog for miore information.

Risk Statement- Project Summary -Creative Team-Timeline -the budget-market research-(film industry, the economy and film, future trends-history of independent distribution-what distributors do-we do everything to make the deal work-compare movies to others- by criteria and by objective financial analysis- using quantitative and qualitative reasoning.

Table of Contents-

Risk Statement- a legal letter that covers all aspects of partnership and/ or investments.

Project Summary – A brief synopsis of the movie regarding the plot and characters.

Creative Team- All involved in the creation. List he director or producer, the cast, production staff, art direction, camera operators, sound operators and editor(s).

Timeline – from your FILMS’ Pre-production to Post-production by week

Preproduction- polish of screenplay, casting crew, location searching, allocate props- 3 weeks
4th week- most casting completed, commence rehearsals
6th week-financing complete, casting complete
8th week – have all crew, locations and props
Production
9th -10th week – begin editing and production
15 week- production complete
Post Production- 16th-25th weeks – editing
25th-30th weeks- sound cutting, music composing, score music
30-40 weeks – all editing completed

2 months after – pursuing a distributor, film festivals, foreign sales agent
Profits will be distributed after 6 months and continue to be distributed every half year

The budget includes monetary figures of – the story, copyrights, the direction, the cast, legal, production staff, art direction, the Set, makeup, camera operators, sound operators, transportation, locations, total production expenses, total editing, publicity, festival expenses, insurance.

Trend Indicators and Market research

• The Film Industry= it’s history- it is what sells itself
• U.S Admissions Growth from the MPAA – talk about where the film industry is now and how it has been in profit up until now.
• Talk about Film and the Economy
• Talk about how Film has been unaffected by the economical swings for the most part

Then a description of what the filmmaker thinks a distributor does to prove that the filmmaker is well informed about the industry.
Let the distributor know what acquisition executives do at a distribution company to get your film made and have a support staff to monitor and track the production, the end of the production and ticket sales from there.

Then what are we going to do everything to ensure a deal and we might even proceed without a distributor because of our success so far with audience attention (we don’t need you really) then if our movie sells big then we’ll know that the theater owner will move ours to a bigger theatre even if there is competition for a new movie. Independent movies like ours (Your film here) offer a big return on investment because they cost less to make.

Then income – actual and projected by comparing other movies to what it might cost.

Compare your movie to other successful movies in the genre, movies that do good on platform while doing bad on DVD or flip flop or failed in both respects.

Specific Criteria for successful Income Earning Films in their Genre:

• Made use of a successful platform release
• Marketed to niche and female audiences
• No star actors in lead roles
• Low budget
• Independently Financed
• Received Strong support
• Directed by a first time director
• Based of successful short films- Bottle Rocket, Sling Blade, Raising Victor Vargas.
• Acquired at a film festival with an advance of funds
• It was a comedy

If you then compare analysis of movies from a website called BASELINE.com or IMDB.com on these factors :

• Maximum screens an average of each theatre (between 58-1020 screens).
• Opening gross in millions
• Budget
• Print Ad Cost
• Domestic Box Office Gross
• DVD Rental
• DVD Revenue
• Ancillaries
• Foreign Income Cost

A Film Distribution Memorandum is a more detailed Press Release. If you can understand a film distribution memorandum, you can understand what films you might want to license and/or distribute your own film by your own distribution company.

Please reply with any other questions to Jonathan at moviedistributionfacts@gmail.com. thanks.

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16 thoughts on “Answer to: How Do I Start My Own Film Distribution Company?

  1. but what do you need to do? For instance, I start an LLC. I have a script. What do distributors usually do now? Do they look for investors first and if so where? Do they sell “Shares” In the film and if so, to whom? Once they get the film made then what? Do they call up theater houses one by one or is there a list. If there is a list, where can i obtain it? Where do they get all the money for prints and advertising which i believe is $1500 to $2000 per print? Any info on these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  2. Hello Sittin Pretty2,

    Prints are not that expensive, that is what they tell you. Your ideal answer lies in if you have an audience for the screenplay? You should send your scrip to a professional scrip doctor who can leave you feedback about your script. I know that no one likes the criticism and everyone likes the praise but you need this feedback to market your film and make it able to distribute. You will need to quote people who looked at your script in your submission to the distributor to try to sell the film. Thats all you will need to do is sell, sell, sell now. if you wish to self distribute, it is a long road ahead. I think you will need to tell me more info. You can email me at filmdistributionfacts@gmail.com

  3. I am thinking of starting a in vestment fund in movies. Invest in production and distribution. I want to understand the whole business of distribution and see how I can maxime the returns for my clients. I want to partner with movies, buy a big chunk and find the distribution. Maybe 1mm per movie. How can I make that work?

    • Hello Sir,

      Sorry for my lateness in answering the posts, I have been busy.What is your name and your business name? Where are you located? I am sure if your on the east or west side of America, you can go to a film festival or two and I can hook you up with directors that are in need of funding, in fact I can think or two or three right now.

      - Jonathan

      • Hi, Jonathan!

        I just found your site and have found it very informative!

        If Perro12 is serious and has the funds to partner with a producer/director, I would like to talk to him some more.

        Could we “talk” through you as I don’t know any of his background and how do I know he is a serious investor?
        Thanks!

        Vikki

    • Hi Perro12,

      I’m a filmmaker based in Toronto with a slate of unique and innovative films in development. I’d love to speak with you further about your thoughts on film investments. Please email me at: bhunter@robanzo.com Thanks very much!

  4. Perro 12,

    We are a CA. based Independent Film Production Company
    with a nice safe Indie Genre which is beginning to move forward, if you would be interested in discussing any involvement such as your Bolg suggests.

    e-mail @ consltintl@aol.com

  5. Hey Jonathan.
    I am serious about starting a distribution company for foreign films by bringing them into the US on DVD. I know a great salesman and wish to sell to rental companies large and small for rent and also large and small chain stores to buy. Would i try to contact the production company to work out a distribution deal in the US? Also who(what position) would I contact at companies like Blockbuster and Best Buy to convince them to carry our DVDs?

  6. I setup an online film distribution company where film makers can post their films for online distrubtion. Since we are also film makers we tend to care about all the good people that work with us with our revenue shares.

    All the films sent to us also get reviewed for potential bigger deals by distributors who can also set up accounts at the site and review films online.

    Anyway, thanks for all the good advice on this blog and if you have any questions please contact me.

  7. I don’t meant to come off as a jerk, because my tone may appear in text contrary to my intent. However, this did not answer the question. I believe the original question aimed at what are the steps one takes to form a distribution company. In other words, the middle man company. Likely, the asker wants to buy movies or work with individuals to either get movie out to the masses or resell to a major distributor. Any direct specific answer on this?

  8. I agree the question has not been answered. How does one start a distribution company? The question is not how does one locate a distributor…the question is how to start a distribution company.

  9. I know this is a delayed response but I ran into this and since I run a distribution company, I can tell you. First, you have to consider if you are selling your own content (the films you are producing) as well as acquiring other producer’s films. If you are only selling your own films it will be harder unless you have really big names and a significant caliber film. Are you wanting to distribute in only N. America or around the world (a US Distributor or also a Foreign Sales Agent.) I would say first you need in house councel (a good 65% of Distribution is transactional law, drafting and countering contracts) if you do not have in house concel you are going to spend a fortune with an attorney at hourly rates. Once you have multiple films you are distributing (you have signed Distribution Agreements) then you need to create a contact list. Most distributors will tell you that is their key trade secret. No one is going to give you a list of their contacts (including me.) You will need to build relationships with (assuming you will be a N. American distributor) video retailers, manufacturers, VOD agreggators, theatrical bookers (they book by region) and tv broadcasters. After 15 years of building those relationships I have a huge contact list and keep in mind people change jobs all the time. Then you have to consider servicing your deals, how much do you know about post production, do you have an agreement with a film/video lab to service your distribution contracts, do you know how to negotiate a delivery schedule? Finally you need vendors to help create marketing materials. Then you have to start distributing your films. Keep in mind that you will need at least 1-2 years of capitol as it may take that long before you start seeing any revenues. Also Keep in mind that the film industry is really challenging even for industry professionals right now and there is a great deal of competition. Hope this helps.

    • Best Regards,

      First let me introduce myself. My name is Davor Bujas and I’m owner of the company ”Dabis Promet” from Croatia. I find your post on internet so I decided to contact you. The company holds copyright on the never released documentary movie about Drazen Petrovic, one of the greatest European basketball players of all time who also played in New Jersey Nets and Portland.. The documentary movie is called ”Drazen Petrovic Basketball Mozart”. It is the story of his life, motivation, enthusiasm, and tragic death. DVD has a very attractive scenes of his game in Europe and America. About Drazen Petrovic speaks his mother Biserka, brother Aleksandar Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja, Goran Ivanisevic, Stojko Vrankovic, Clyde Drexler, Rudy Tomjanovich, Willis Reed, Chuck Daly and Juan Antonio Samaranch. Film is directed by one of the best Croatian filmmakers Jakov Sedlar and the budget for film was very high. The film was made in 1996. but has never been published. This year in June is the twentieth anniversary of his tragic death. The movie is ready for distribution od DVD, and maybe you can help me for distribution in USA.

      thanks in advance,
      Davor Bujas, Director of Dabis Promet

  10. Great article. I’m trying to put together an online movie where people can watch paid movies similar to NetFlix. What are the requirements to set it up online? Thanks.

  11. Need investors we have the movies some already in the can and others close to filming. Budgets from $30,000, $1,000,000 to $59,000,000.

  12. To whom it may concern? My comment and Sugguestion why makes one catalogue with 9000.000 of all kinds movies international and national with audio Spanish DVD mobvies and too all kinds DVD video music and too Latin music in general my mailling address can send to: Tony Diaz P O Box 547 ny ny 10040. Please of send me all infor cuplete. Thank you

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